The One and Only Steve Schmidt

There is only one SUPER HEAVY LIFT LIFTER:


by Dale E. Friesz

Steve Schmidt set many Back Lift records using his custom-built Back Lift Apparatus.

What follows is a history of the male and female winners of what has progressed, in name only, from the STRONGMAN PENTATHLON, to the SCHMIDT’S PENTATHLON, to the SCHMIDT’S BACKBREAKER PENTATHLON, to the USAWA NATIONAL HEAVY LIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS, to the STEVE SCHMIDT’S BACKBREAKER, and to the USAWA HEAVY LIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS.  The data source is our former organization’s newsletter written by Bill Clark, the STRENGTH JOURNAL.  I believe it is safe to assume that Bill Clark was involved in the meet name changes.  The same five lifts have been contested since the first meet on 11/25-1986 – the lifts are the NECK LIFT, the HAND & THIGH, the HIP LIFT, the HARNESS LIFT, and the BACKLIFT.  It seems that Steve Schmidt, together with Bill Clark, conceived of the meet as it contains the four chain lifts and the biggest lift of all the USAWA – the BACKLIFT.  Steve has competed in 14 of these meets since the first in 1986 in his yard and barn in Sullivan, Missouri. He is UNDEFEATED!  The small table that follows shows how Steve has managed to cheat father time:

10377 1991 Sullivan 220 36
10231 1988 Sullivan 223 33
10219 1992 Sullivan 209 37
10200 1987 Sullivan 218 32
10037 1989 Sullivan 220 34
9647 1990 Sullivan 219 35
9645 2004 Columbia 220 49
9415 2008 Columbia 224 53
9345 2007 Columbia 224 52
9330 1986 Sullivan 224 31
9315 2005 Columbia 218 50
9305 2003 Columbia 208 48
9160 2006 Columbia 223 51
9055 2002 Columbia 209 47

I have enjoyed the recent forum discussions that Steve’s apparatus and large diameter heavy bar made it possible for him to lift such “unreal” poundages. Also, as he aged he was not able to lift as much weight.  I point out that no one has been able to beat him regardless of the equipment used.  Also, that after nearly a quarter century of training he cracked the 3000 pound backlift ceiling twice in one meet, maxing at 3050 pounds.  Big Al was very much present when it was done as it took place in his gym, using his state of the art backlift equipment.

Warren Lincoln Travis and the Back Lift

by Al Myers

Warren Lincoln Travis Back Lifting. His best Back Lift was 4240 pounds.

Discussion this past week on the USAWA Discussion Forum involved discussing our favorite Old Time Strongmen. One who was brought up was Warren Lincoln Travis. I have always been a fan of Travis – he always did his own thing and didn’t follow the crowd of other strongmen. He obviously was most famous for his Hip Lifting, Harness Lifting, Back Lifting, and Finger Lifting. These lifts were not exactly the fortes of other strongmen. I would have to say that Warren Lincoln Travis is the reason that we do the Heavy Lifts in the USAWA today.

Travis would always challenge other lifters to contests involving Total Poundage. With his specialty on the Heavy Lifts and the large amount of weight that he could lift this way – he never found any takers!!

I recently found this video of Warren Lincoln Travis Back Lifting (Thanks to Abe Smith!!). On his platform, he used people as weight. Unbelievable!! Watch how he twists his body when he has his Back Lift locked out. This video can be viewed using Windows Media Player. Plus – watch how he likes to reward himself after a hard workout. This is classic!!!

Video of Warren Lincoln Travis Back Lifting

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

In the USAWA, lifts done for repetitions may be contested in competition and for records. The ultimate record for repetitions is the TOTAL POUNDAGE, where the lifter may choose any lift and rep/set scheme, to lift the most weight within a given time frame.  The standard for this record was initially set by the great Warren Lincoln Travis in 1927 when he Back Lifted 5.5 million pounds in 3 hours, 9 minutes. This was done by doing 5500 reps with 1000 pounds.

Name the TWO USAWA LIFTERS who have exceeded this, along with their TOTAL POUNDAGE.

Steve Schmidt setting the all-time record for TOTAL POUNDAGE on December 14th, 2002

Congratulations to the Winner of this week’s quiz -  Tom Ryan of Acworth, Georgia – who correctly identified the two USAWA lifters as Steve Schmidt and Howard Prechtel. Tom had an advantage in this quiz, as he was a witness and assisted in the counting of repetitions during Steve Schmidt’s record. Howard Prechtel initially broke Travis’s record in 1982 by Back Lifting 6,066,060 pounds in 3 hours, 9 minutes. It was accomplished by doing 5460 reps with 1111 pounds. This was then upped by Steve Schmidt, on December 14th, 2002 at Clark’s Gym, in which he lifted 8,087,095 pounds in 2 hours 50 minutes. Steve was 48 years old at the time and weighed only 209 pounds. He accomplished this by lifting 1,115 pounds a total of 7253 times, using the Back Lift. Bill Clark was the official judge and counter of this Herculean effort. I was fortunate to also have witnessed this event and can attest to the stamina Steve exhibited in accomplishing this feat.  He was performing 45 reps per minute, which gave him only about 30 seconds rest per minute.  He maintained this pace for two hours!!!!  Steve broke Howard’s record in 1 hour, 57 minutes.   The conditioning required for something like this must be much the same as that of a marathon runner. I was amazed how quickly Steve recovered following this endurance record, as he did not seem out of breath at all afterwards and even joined in with us on some other record lifts.  Will this TOTAL POUNDAGE record be broken in the next 100 years?   Only time will tell…..

Dino Gym Challenge

by Al Myers

Steve Schmidt sets USAWA Back Lift Record!

Steve Schmidt with a 3050# Back Lift.

Steve Schmidt became the first man to Backlift over 3000 pounds in the an official USAWA meet. His 3050# Backlift record was set at the Dino Challenge in Holland, Kansas on January 17th. He lifted in a record session prior to the meet which was judged by Bill Clark, Al Myers, and Chad Ullom. He broke the previous record of 2920# three times with lifts of 2930#, 3000# and finally his new record of 3050#. Steve has been training the back lift over 20 years to achieve this hard earned record. Steve owns nearly ever rep record with the back lift, including his famous 8 million pound rep record in 3 hours set in 2002.

The Dino Challenge drew 4 lifters to compete in a meet that tested not only strength, but flexibility and agility. Chad Ullom, of Topeka Kansas, came out on top winning 3 of the 5 events. He surprised everyone with his 200# Zeigler Clean, which is a clean done balancing a 2.5# plate on your head!!! Chad also won the Dino Challenge last year. Rudy Bletscher, at 73 years old, showed everyone that he still has the athleticism to complete this selection of difficult lifts.


2009 Dino Challenge
January 17th, 2009
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas

Lifts: Kelly Snatch, Zeigler Clean, Judd Clean & Jerk, James Lift, and the Allen Lift.

Meet Director: Al Myers

Official (1 official system used): Bill Clark
Loaders: Mike Murdoch and Mark Mitchell

Lifter BW
AGE Kelly Ziegler Judd James Allen Total
Chad Ullom 231 37 70 150 150 125 35 530
Al Myers 251 42 50 100 100 85 45 380
Scott Campbell 303 34 25 65 120 125 25 360
Rudy Bletscher 222 73 25 85 50 55 2 217

All Lift Results in Pounds.
Extra lifts for record
Chad Ullom, Zeigler Clean:  200#

Record Session:
Steve Schmidt, Age: 53, BW:230;  Backlift: 3050#